Cusa Tea is a premium instant tea that makes tea drinking as easy as those ubiquitous skinny packets that coffee drinkers use. Several tea flavors come in the same kind of stick packaging, making it easy to use and transport. The tea packets contain nothing but pure tea with no sweeteners, additives or preservatives.
I’m a tea drinker and so are the people I backpack with, including my husband and several friends. Tea bags are easy and light to carry, but after use on the trail, the wet, soggy teabags have to be packed out to comply with Leave No Trace principles. One or two tea bags aren’t a big deal, but on long distance backpacking trips, my husband and I might end up carrying 30 or more wet tea bags. Not only does the weight add up, but the resulting dampness inside our baggie of garbage makes everything wet and smelly. Cusa Tea solves these problems by providing a convenient tea powder with less waste.
We used Cusa Tea on a recent 150-mile backpacking trip on a section of the Pacific Crest Trail from Tahoe to Yosemite. We had a sample pack so we had a variety of tea flavors, including the following:
I prefer plain black tea in the morning with no fancy flavors so the English breakfast tea was perfect, while Steve enjoyed the green tea. Cusa Tea doesn’t taste 100% like brewed tea, but it’s close. With full-fat powdered milk stirred in, it’s even closer. In camp on a chilly morning, the cup of hot tea was very welcome. I was reluctant to go all-in without extensive testing so I also brought some tea bags. I quickly regretted the damp tea bags in the garbage bag as items began to ferment. When we realized we were going to cross a road through a forest service parking lot, I became irrationally excited after reading that there was a garbage can where we could deposit our refuse. After that, I wished I had brought more Cusa Tea sticks that stay dry.
Where we really enjoyed the Cusa Tea on that trip was on our lunch breaks. A couple of days were extremely tiring with more than 3,000 feet of elevation gain, and the Cusa Tea provided a refreshing beverage with a little shot of caffeine. There was no need to light the stove because Cusa Tea will dissolve in either hot or cold water, though it takes a little longer in cool creek water. We put it in our cup with a top and shook it for a few seconds to help it dissolve. It tasted great and provided a nice lift. At that time of day I appreciated the fruit flavors in some of the sticks. We liked the tea sticks better than products with artificial sweeteners or chemical flavorings (including maltodextrin, corn syrup solids, aspartame and colored food dyes found in a popular drink powder-yuk). The caffeine content varies by tea flavor, ranging from 42-70 mg per serving. Generally, green tea has less caffeine than black tea and the teas with fruit flavors have the lowest amount. The ingredient list for Cusa Tea is clean and simple with no sugar, additives, fillers, preservatives or chemicals of any type. The plain tea flavors have only tea while the fruit flavors contain tea and fruit—that’s it.
Cusa Tea uses a cold steep technology to make the tea powder, using organically grown, sun-dried tea from small farms in Asia. Cold steeping involves “brewing” the tea in room-temperature water over eight hours to extract the flavor from the leaves. Other instant tea powders on the market are created with high heat or extreme cold technologies like most other “instant” teas on the market, which can affect the flavor. The liquid Cusa Tea is then vacuum dehydrated into crystals that dissolve in hot or cold water.
Backpackers will appreciate that the inspiration for this product stemmed from the founder, Jim Lamancusa, who wanted a quality tea to bring backpacking in Colorado. A Boulder, CO native, Jim developed an appreciation for fine tea as a study-abroad student in Hong Kong, and wondered if it would be possible to create a good-tasting quality tea when he returned. He spent nine months researching and came up with Cusa Tea.
Cusa Tea is a powdered tea with no other ingredients except tea (with fruit in some flavors). It’s a clean, mostly organic product that is easy to use in the backcountry, other travel, at work or anytime. It’s a good alternative to tea bags if hot water is not accessible or you don’t want to carry wet tea bags after steeping.
Boxes of 10 sticks are $10.
All photos by Inga Aksamit, unless otherwise credited.
Disclosure of material connection: I received a sample for testing purposes, but the opinions expressed are solely my own.
I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program.